A Brief History Of April Fools Day

The history of April Fools Day remains unclear today, but some historians and researchers believe that this holiday has its beginnings rooted in sixteenth century France. This day is not observed or recognized as a national holiday, but many people celebrate the holiday as one that is appropriate for foolishness and practical jokes of all kinds. This day is honored in different regions around the globe and it is sometimes identified as All Fools Day.

History Of April Fools Day: Its Beginnings

Before April 1st became known as April Fools Day or All Fools Day, earlier precursors of the holiday existed such as the Festival of Hilaria held in ancient Roman times. This festival occurred each year in March, not April. In ancient Rome, on March 25, the Festival of Hilaria often involved honoring the resurrection of the god Attis; this day was commonly identified as the Roman Laughing Day. The holiday of April Fools Day might also be traced to a festival held on December 28th each year known as the Medieval Festival of Fools. This holiday is still honored in Spanish speaking nations around the globe as a day of pranks and jokes.

During the Middle Ages, March 25th marked the beginning of the New Year in many towns in Europe. In France, the entrance of the New Year was a holiday that lasted a week and ended on the first day of April. Some schools of thought assert that this is the time when April Fools came into being. When some people continued to celebrate the New Year on different dates like the first of January (a date presented on the new Gregorian calendar) they were mocked and ridiculed for doing so.

When the Gregorian calendar was introduced by Charles IX, the New Year was officially shifted to January 1st. Some people refused to adhere to the change while many others were left unaware of the alteration to the calendar. Since new information was slow in reaching people and news was often communicated when people traveled by foot can carried news to others orally, many individuals were not made aware of the new calendar and its dating. People began identifying those that did not celebrate January 1st as the New Year as fools. Some researchers believe this is where the notion of fools and April 1st came together and that it eventually evolved into a day of pranks on the gullible.

History Of April Fools Day and Its Evolution

The first known recorded mention of April 1st being associated with jokes and folly is identified in 1392 in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Some people argue that the alteration of the calendar during the sixteen century is the reason behind the holiday, but such arguments cannot explain the fourteenth century references to the practices associated with April 1st. Chaucer makes mention of April First in the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale.”

In the year 1508, Eloy d’Amerval, a French poet, mentions “April Fish,” or “possion d’avril,” in his poetry; some scholars believe that this is a direct reference to the April Fools holiday. Later, in the late 1530s, Eduard de Dene, a Flemish poet, wrote about a nobleman who deliberately sent some of his servants out to conduct foolish tasks on the first of April. In the late seventh century, John Aubrey, an English writer and antiquarian, makes mention of a “fooles holy day,” which is considered the first mention of the holiday in the British nation.

During the eighteenth century, April Fools Day spread to places like Scotland and England before making its way to the colonies when settlers arrived in America. Different cultures around the world have different types of celebrations for the day. In Scotland the observance lasts a full two days, and the second day of the celebration involves pranks or jokes related to the posterior area of one’s body; thus, this day is identified as Taily Day. It is believed by some that the prankster’s “kick me” sign is rooted in this Scottish tradition.

History Of April Fools Day and Present Day Practices

On December 28th, in Mexico, there is a holiday much like April Fools Day too. Formerly a day when the innocent children killed by King Herod were remembered, eventually this holiday evolved into one with a focus on jokes, pranks, and humor. In addition, in India today, on the 31st of March, the Huli Festival is held; this day is also a day of jokes and fun as participants celebrate spring’s arrival. In addition, April Fools Day occurs for two days in Portugal; the Sunday and Monday that occur just before Lent. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, in New Zealand, and in South Africa, jokes and pranks are played until noon. If jokes are played after noon than the prankster is called the “April Fool.” In Australia, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands, joking and pranks are ongoing throughout the day.

In the late 1950s, a documentary produced by BBC hosted a prank related to picking spaghetti noodles from a “spaghetti tree.” Many people encountering the documentary were actually fooled and found themselves wanting a tree of their very own. Today, websites, television shows, radio stations, and other sources of entertainment get in on the prankster fun. In 2007, Google® announced a paper mail service where users of their Gmail® services could archive emails, print them out, and have them mailed free of cost. Two years later the same search engine giant invited people to go to Mars on an exploration endeavor: all they had to do was sign up.

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